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Studs and Duds: Celtics outlast Pelicans, tie Hawks for 3rd seed 04.06.16 at 10:33 pm ET
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Apr 6, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) and guard Avery Bradley (0) celebrate during the final moments of the second half of the Boston Celtics 104-97 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Bradley (right) celebrates with Isaiah Thomas in the final moments of the Celtics’ 104-97 win over the Pelicans. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Trap game or not, the Celtics needed to beat the undermanned Pelicans in order to stay afloat in the upper tier of the Eastern Conference, and even though they won, it sure wasn’t pretty.

In a game that went down to the wire, the Celtics held off the visiting Pelicans, 104-97. For the 17th time in a row, Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics in scoring, totaling 32 points and adding eight assists. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley netted 14 and 13, respectively.

Toney Douglas’ 19 points led six Pelicans in double figures, while former Maine Red Claw Tim Frazier added 18 points and six assists. 

The Celtics took an early 15-6 lead and Thomas capped the first half with a driving layup in the final 1.5 second, but the C’s led by just eight at the break, despite forcing 14 first-half turnovers.

The Celtics again surged in the second half, grabbing a double-digit lead before an 8-0 Pelicans run cut the lead to 65-62. The two teams traded runs, and New Orleans tied the game at 91 with 3:16 remaining. The Celtics finished the game on an 11-4 run, including a monster Amir Johnson block and a clutch Avery Bradley 3-pointer to ice the victory.

With the win, the Celtics improved to 46-32 on the season and pulled even with the Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta currently holds a 2-1 tiebreaker against the C’s with one head-to-head meeting remaining on Saturday.

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Studs and Duds: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics topple division-leading Toronto 03.23.16 at 10:42 pm ET
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Mar 23, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots the ball past Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas gets around Raptors big man Bismack Biyombo during Boston’s 91-79 win. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Sure, the Raptors were without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry and a couple other key contributors, but a win’s a win, right?

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 23 points, and the Celtics outscored the Toronto 45-33 in the second half to cruise to a third consecutive win, 91-79, on Wednesday at TD Garden.

Evan Turner added 17 points and seven assists, Avery Bradley netted 16 points and Amir Johnson notched his second straight double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds).

Both teams struggled to build a big lead in the first half, but the Celtics distanced themselves behind a 10-4 run to the start the third quarter. In that frame, Turner caught fire, scoring 13 of his 17 points and pushing the Celtics to a nine-point lead before Marcus Smart fouled DeMar DeRozan (21 points) on a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left in the quarter. 

Still, the Celtics kept their composure, closing Toronto out on a 12-5 run in the game’s final four minutes. The C’s also took care of the basketball, limiting themselves to just eight turnovers on the evening and outscoring the Raptors 48-36 in the paint.

The Celtics (42-30) remain tied with the Hawks for for fourth place in the East entering a five-game road trip out west.

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Studs and Duds: Isaiah Thomas leads Celtics to 14th straight at home 03.09.16 at 10:08 pm ET
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Mar 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes (22) in the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes (22) in the first half at TD Garden. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

It was a tale of two halves.

After staying within striking distance in the first half, Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics turned a three-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead with a 24-6, second-half run en route to a 116-96 win over the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden on Wednesday. 

The 14th straight win at TD Garden gives the Celtics their longest home winning streak since winning 18 straight on Causeway in 1991. 

Isaiah Thomas scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the third and led seven Celtics in double figures while Evan Turner (16 points, 8 assists) led the bench. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley each scored 15 points while Jared Sullinger (12 points), Jonas Jerebko (11 points) and Marcus Smart all scored in double-digits. 

JaMychal Green’s double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) led six Grizzlies in double figures. Vince Carter also scored 17 points and rookie forward Jarell Martin finished with 16 points.

With 7:10 left in the first half, the Celtics were in the penalty and the Grizzlies took advantage by converting 17-of-18 free throws before the break. Memphis also out-rebounded the C’s 29-14 and converted 9 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points. Mario Chalmers’ 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter gave the Grizzlies a 55-52 halftime lead. 

However, the Celtics sang a different tune in the third quarter — where they only committed six fouls and were a plus-2 on the glass (12-10). Highlighted by a 21-6 run, the Celtics outscored their opponent, 31-12 in the third quarter and took an 83-67 lead into the final frame. 

The Grizzlies, a team playing without three of their starters for the second straight game – Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph –  came into TD Garden off a win in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. The Celtics have now won 14 consecutive home games for the first time since the 1990-91 season — where the Celtics won 18 straight games at home. 

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. 

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.

It doesn’t matter how he performs in the first 24 minutes — Isaiah Thomas almost always gets it going in the second half. After scoring 6 first-half points on 2-0f-8 shooting, Thomas single-handedly outscored the Grizzlies, 16-12 in the third quarter. He finished with 22 points to go with 8 assists in 28 minutes. 

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Lance Stephenson.

Fresh off his 17-points/7 rebound performance in a win against the Cavaliers, Stephenson couldn’t find his groove against the Celtics. He finished with 2 points on 1-for-8 shooting. With their starting point guard Mike Conley out, Stephenson has been their back-up point behind Mario Chalmers. 

VINE OF THE NIGHT:

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Rebounding. 

The Grizzlies were a plus-10 on the glass (48-38) — a big reason why they led the Celtics at the half. Their offensive rebounds led to 22 second-chance points helped give them momentum until the Celtics’ big third quarter was too much for them to handle. 

STAT OF THE NIGHT: Three-point shooting. 

The C’s caught fire from deep in the second half. After shooting 33.3 percent on 5-of-15 first-half 3-pointers, the Celtics finished 15-of-32 from distance and opened up a 22-point advantage — their biggest lead of the night. Overall, the Celtics shot 47.1 percent from the floor on 41-of-87 shooting. 

@ OF THE NIGHT: 

Studs and Duds: Celtics squeeze past Knicks in closing minutes, stretch home game win streak to 13 03.04.16 at 10:25 pm ET
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Mar 4, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) celebrates against the New York Knicks during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) celebrates against the New York Knicks during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

They refuse to lose at home. 

In a game where they struggled to hold a lead, the Celtics outscored the Knicks 13-4 in the final 3:22 to win 105-104 at TD Garden — extending their home winning streak to 13 games in a row. It is their longest such streak since the 2008-09 team won 13 straight at the Garden from Nov. 18, 2008 to Jan. 2, 2009. 

The Celtics roared back at the end of the fourth quarter, pulling themselves within a point, but a Carmelo Anthony jumper extend the Knicks’ lead to 102-99 with 1:19 left. When the C’s grabbed a lead on back-to-back buckets, Anthony again gave New York the lead, scoring his 30th point on a jumper over Jae Crowder. But Avery Bradley responded with a go-ahead layup in the final minute, and this time Anthony’s last-second attempt failed.

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 32 points to lead the C’s. Crowder scored 20 points, and Evan Turner added 21 points and eight rebounds from off the bench. Anthony’s 30 points led five Knicks in double digits, including Arron Afflalo (17 points) and rookie standout Kristaps Porzingis (15 points). 

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box read on.

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Studs and Duds: Jae Crowder’s late 3 delivers Celtics’ 11th straight home win 02.29.16 at 10:40 pm ET
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Jae Crowder (99) celebrates against the Jazz during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Jae Crowder (99) celebrates against the Jazz during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Just when you think they’re going to let one slip away, the Celtics keep on fighting. They fought from behind for nearly three whole quarters before finally pulling ahead of the Jazz in the fourth quarter en route to a 100-95 win at TD Garden.

The C’s used a 9-0 run in the final quarter to grab their first lead since the opening 12 minutes. Butler product Shelvin Mack’ 3-pointer with 49.5 seconds left put Utah back on top, 95-93, but Jae Crowder responded with the biggest shot of the night to recapture the lead for good. Avery Bradley’s three free throws and monster block of another Brad Stevens protege, Gordon Hayward, sealed the deal down the stretch.

After Utah grabbed a 13-point lead in the first half, the Celtics responded with an 11-0 second-quarter run. Second-round pick Jordan Mickey gave the C’s a spark off the bench, collecting three points, three rebounds and a pair of blocks in 7:07.

Still, the Jazz took a 46-43 lead into halftime and kept the Celtics at bay in the third quarter. It felt every time the C’s scored back-to-back shots, Utah immediately responded, holding tightly to a 73-72 advantage entering the final frame. 

Jae Crowder scored a game-high 22 points, while Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas each added 18 points for the Celtics (36-25), who won an 11 straight home game for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Trey Lyles and Shelvin Mack each scored 18 to lead the Jazz. Derrick Favors (11 points, 16 rebounds) and Rudy Gobert (12 points, 12 rebounds) added double-double for the Jazz. 

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Stud and Duds: Celtics defeat Clippers in OT thriller 02.11.16 at 12:07 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas gets a shot off over Paul Pierce in overtime. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Isaiah Thomas gets a shot off over Paul Pierce in overtime. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics never give up. Scoring seven points in the final minute of regulation, Isaiah Thomas & Co. forced overtime, where they defeated the visiting Clippers, 139-134.

After both teams shot better than 50 percent in the first half, the Celtics took a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, but saw that lead disappear in the fourth.

Lance Stephenson’s corner 3-pointer tied the game, 106-106, just before he earned a technical foul for taunting the C’s bench. Still, Los Angeles took a five-point lead on an 8-3 run with 4:04 left. Still trailing by five in the final minute, the Celtics closed the quarter on a 7-2 run.

In that span, Isaiah Thomas scored six points, including a fadeaway jumper over DeAndre Jordan to send the game to overtime. In the extra period, Evan Turner caught fire, scoring half of his 14 points. The Celtics erased a six-point deficit, outscored the Clippers 17-12 in the extra frame and stifled Jamal Crawford‘s last-minute game-tying 3-point attempt to seal a remarkably resilient win.

Thomas’ 36 points led six Celtics in double figures, and Jared Sullinger flirted with a triple-double (21 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists). Chris Paul (35 points, 13 assists) and DeAndre Jordan (21 points, 16 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles for the Clippers.

Former Celtic Paul Pierce scored all six of his points on a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. TD Garden gave him and former coach Doc Rivers a loud ovation during the player introductions.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Pierce: ‘It might be the last time I’m back’ 02.10.16 at 8:06 pm ET
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As Paul Pierce returned to TD Garden as a member of the Clippers, the 18-year veteran said Wednesday’s game against the Celtics might be the last time he plays in Boston.

“It could be, Pierce said before the game. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but, you know, like I’ve been saying the last two years, I’m taking it year by year, and this could possibly be.”

For 15 seasons, Pierce called Boston his home, and he climbed to second on the team’s career scoring list. Although it’s been nearly three years since he last played a game in a Celtics uniform, coming back to TD Garden as a member of the visiting team is still odd for the veteran.

“I think the weird thing is just being on this side of the bench and this side of the locker room,” Pierce explained. “The locker room is a little weird. I used to walk up the stairs and take a right instead of a left. It’s fun I get to enjoy it because it might be the last time I’m back.”

Pierce also discussed former teammate Kevin Garnett, who he’s kept in contact with despite going their separate ways.

“Usually all we talk about is family,” Pierce said with a laugh. “Kevin is doing good. I always ask if this is it for him; he’s still undecided. Kevin said he was going to retire the last five years in a row and always came back, so I don’t know what he’s planning. We stay in good contact, as do a lot of us — Rondo, the guys who we’ve played with — so I don’t know what his plans are like, and I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it could be the last time.” Read the rest of this entry »

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